Carl Frampton willing to wait until he can fight Jamel Herring in front of packed crowd
Carl Frampton standing in between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua would be an unusual sight. A caption writer’s dream.
However, if you were to imagine the fanbase of Frampton which stands behind him, ready to follow “The Jackal” from Belfast to Belize if needs be, then your eyes would wander away from the comedic set-up to the sea of people who view Frampton not just as a boxer but as an inspiration.
Of the four nations that make up the United Kingdom it is England, through population, that has the ability to produce world class fighters year in year out. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are always having to punch above their weight, so when a Joe Calzaghe or Ricky Burns emerges from the trifecta of Celtic nations they are carried aloft as a hero and national treasure.
While Frampton’s fans are from all over the U.K. and beyond, it is Northern Ireland, his home, that the largest portion of his traveling faithful resides. You may even hear them before you see them.
His career is nearing the end of its eleventh year and is teasing the opportunity of making history for the 33-year-old. There is a problem, however. His proposed fight against WBO junior lightweight titleholder Jamel Herring, rated No. 3 by The Ring, should take place in front of a 20,000 plus crowd in Belfast or at an iconic venue stateside. But 2020 has thrown boxing a curveball. No one is fighting, everyone is waiting, and it’s looking increasingly likely that fights will take place behind closed doors because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“I wouldn’t say I’d be quite happy, to be honest. I’d rather not,” Frampton told The Ring while answering if he would be in fact happy to fight Herring in front of not one single member of his fan club. It would be lights, cameras and the sound of punch after punch landing on the man in front of you.
“It’d be a shame to do a fight where there’s potentially the chance for me to make history, in a third weight division, and to have nobody there to witness it. I wouldn’t be happy but if I have to do it, I have to do it but I’d prefer not to. I’m hoping things clear up and by some point, whenever that may be, even by early next year and things are back to some sort of normality then it can happen in front of a packed house. It would be a shame for such a huge fight and such a potentially historic occasion to be witnessed by no one, really.”
Frampton, a former world titleholder at junior featherweight and featherweight, is willing to sit out the final seven months of the year if necessary. He doesn’t need the obligatory tune-up fight; he has achieved everything he wants from boxing (so far) and knows that on his marketability alone a chance to make history as the first Irishman to become a three-weight world champion will arise.
Bob Fitzsimmons, Duke McKenzie and Ricky Burns are Britain’s three entries into those illustrious history pages, while Ireland’s two-weight successes consist of Steve Collins and Katie Taylor. Witnessing history for the south and north of Ireland should mean a night delivering a cacophony of noise that would make hairs stand up on end for those watching on television let alone the thousands upon thousands who would be in attendance.
“As long as I continue to tick over and stay in reasonable shape, I’d be prepared to sit it out and wait it out,” says Frampton. “Time isn’t really on either of our sides, me or Jamel Herring, [because of] our ages. If this goes on too much longer it’s not going to be great for either of us but I would be prepared to sit out.
“I’ve had a great support my whole career and even the new ones who’ve recently jumped on with the bigger fights. I’m appreciative of all the support that I get and I hope whenever, wherever the fight with Herring happens there are as many people there as possible again to make some memories.”
Frampton’s odyssey has produced memories that will become the stuff of legend for many. Recollections of halcyon days that in years to come will always ensure a twinkle in the eye and a smile on a face.
Carl Frampton’s impact on people, particularly in Ireland, goes beyond boxing. During these uncertain and unprecedented times the working-class family man has been volunteering to deliver meals to homes in Tigers Bay, an area of north Belfast that are the roots of everything that the man has become.
“I think when you’re in a position to help people you should do it if you can,” he says.
“That’s the outlook I like to have on different things. I genuinely like to help people and do different things. I get great satisfaction out of helping people and making someone feel good about themselves. I get really satisfied about that. To be in a position to do that I think you should do it. It’s in my nature. I’m not an aggressive person even though I’m in this sport. I just think I’m someone who likes to help out. I had this conversation with someone recently. I’ve done quite well in my sport, I’ve got a nice house and what have you, but I still class myself as working-class and have working-class morals and beliefs.
“I think whatever class you are born into is the class you are for life. I know people who were born in housing estates and rough areas and they get decent jobs and they like to call themselves middle class or whatever. I think you’re born into a class. My kids will be middle class because of where they’re born but me and my wife are complete working class people with working class morals and beliefs. I think the morals of the working class, for the most, are better than the middle class.”
That is the mark of the man. One who has rarely changed when ungloved, one who believes in community spirit and one who believes that we will come out of this pandemic as better people. The fighting man, however, still has ambitions of big nights and big fights.
“I think there is still a wee bit more [to come].”
The past still bites for Frampton but life goes on. Not winning a British title…
“Ah, you want that British title. Nicest looking belt in boxing,” his Grandfather told him.
The loss to Josh Warrington in December 2018 for the Englishman’s IBF featherweight title.
“It still annoys me that one. Beforehand looking at his record there was no suggestion that he could hurt me. I was expecting it to be a tough, long fight but I just didn’t think he could hurt me and that’s obviously the wrong mindset to go into any fight with. I got it wrong. He hurt me literally inside the first minute, he hurt me in the second round and the third round as well. That’s something that’s hard for me to live with because I just feel like, in the [second] [Leo] Santa Cruz fight I could have fought better but he won the fight, but I could’ve fought much better than I did in the Warrington fight.”
He doesn’t think about it every day and a win against Herring would eclipse all the bad memories from the losses to Santa Cruz and Warrington.
“It’ll help me to forget,” he adds.